Receiving duo emerges for No. 13 Oregon State

Receiving duo emerges for No. 13 Oregon State

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Two of the keys to No. 13 Oregon State's surprising turnaround this season are Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, who don't hesitate in proclaiming themselves the best receiving duo in the Pac-12.

Some of the numbers certainly back them up.

While USC's Marquise Lee grabs all the headlines out West, Wheaton and Cooks are combining to average more than 211 receiving yards a game for the Beavers (7-1, 5-1).

Cooks, a sophomore, is averaging 113.25 yards, ranking him seventh among FBS players, while senior Wheaton is No. 13 with 98.4. Wheaton lost some ground when he left Oregon State's game against Washington two weeks ago in the first quarter because of a concussion.

The only other school with two receivers ranked as high is West Virginia, which has No. 8 Travon Austin (111.13) and No. 11 Stedman Bailey (103.75).

``I guess it depends on who you ask,'' laughed Wheaton when asked if he and his teammate were the best in the conference. ``I think so. Definitely.''

Declared Cooks: ``Yes. Yes, we are.''

Lee leads the Pac-12 and is second nationally with an average of nearly 143 yards. Together with teammate Robert Woods (72.9), they're averaging just over 215 yards a game, more than Cooks and Wheaton but also with the dynamic Lee contributing disproportionate yardage. Austin Hill and Dan Buckner are together averaging about 186 yards for Arizona.

In last Saturday's 36-26 victory over Arizona State, Cooks caught six passes for 116 yards with a touchdown, and Wheaton caught four passes for 108 yards with two scores. It was the third time this season that the duo had at least 100 receiving yards apiece.

For the season, Cooks has 906 receiving yards and four touchdowns, while Wheaton has 787 yards and eight scores. Wheaton has at least one catch in 31 straight games.

Asked for his opinion, coach Mike Riley said Wheaton and Cooks benefit greatly from their quickness. This spring Wheaton bested Oregon speedster De'Anthony Thomas in the Oregon Twilight track meet at Hayward Field, taking second in the 100-meter dash in 10.58 seconds (Thomas was third in 10.65 seconds).

``They are also very detailed guys,'' Riley said. ``They work at this thing hard. That combination is good.''

Oh, and as for the two being the best receiving tandem in the league?

``I agree totally,'' Riley said.

Overall, Oregon is ranked 21st nationally in passing offense with 306.1 yards a game, but they've juggled two quarterbacks, Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz.

Mannion started Oregon States' first four games, but injured his left knee and required surgery. Vaz, a junior who had not started a game since high school, led the Beavers to victories in their next two games.

Mannion, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, returned against Washington, but threw four picks in a 20-17 loss, the Beavers' first of the season. Vaz took over last weekend against the Sun Devils, and has been named Oregon State's starter for this Saturday's game at Stanford.

Wheaton credited both with the duo's success.

``I think a lot of it has to do with our quarterback. Both our quarterbacks are real good. They put it where it needs to be,'' he said.

To which Vaz returned the compliment: ``Just knowing that they can score whenever they get the ball in their hands - it's huge for any quarterback. They make my job a whole lot easier.''

The Beavers face a considerable challenge in the 16th-ranked Cardinal (7-2, 5-1). The teams are playing for second place in the Pac-12 North to No. 2 Oregon, which hasn't lost a game. Both Stanford and Oregon State still have the Ducks on their schedules.

That the Beavers are in this position is remarkable. Last season, they went 3-9 and many were calling for Riley's dismissal. Oregon State was picked in the preseason to finish last in the league's northern division.

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After viral 2018 scuffle, Taylor Lewan offers to make peace with Josh Norman

After viral 2018 scuffle, Taylor Lewan offers to make peace with Josh Norman

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Titans tackle Taylor Lewan got into a widely-discussed altercation after Washington's Week 16 loss to Tennesse last season.

But on Thursday, Lewan said he's finally ready to let bygones be bygones. 

Lewan tweeted he wants Norman to come on the "Bussin' With The Boys" podcast he co-hosts with former Redskins linebacker Will Compton to "settle our differences."

Judging by what happened last December, there are plenty of differences: Norman threw his helmet at Lewan after the latter approached him, Lewan later accusing Norman of trying to hurt Titans running back Derrick Henry.

"I'm not worried about Josh Norman, man," Lewan told reporters after the incident. "I'm an offensive lineman, he's a [defensive back]. I don't know who that is."

"I was pissed. He was trying to hurt Derrick [Henry]. That's BS. That’s not the way football’s supposed to be played, man. It’s not our fault you’re not relevant anymore."

"Why would you come to another man's sideline?" Norman said of the dust-up. "And then after you won a game, you pick fun at the player that is relevant. You go out of your way to come to his bench, his sideline, to go at him in that kind of way."

"We're not having it. We will not tolerate disrespect. That's zero tolerance for that. That was the ultimate disrespect. You just don't do that."

The incident happened months ago, so it's about time the pair made peace. And as an ex-Redskin and ex-Titan, perhaps Compton can help mend the fences. But if Norman does accept Lewan's invitation to come on the podcast, we might be in for even more verbal fireworks. 


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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keldon Johnson

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keldon Johnson

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Keldon Johnson

School: Kentucky
Position: Guard
Age: 19 (turns 21 in October)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 216
Wingspan: 6-9
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 13.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG% (4.6/10.1), 38.1 3PT% (1.2/3.2), 70.3 FT%

Player comparison: Gary Harris, Jerome Robinson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, 15th, Bleacher Report 8th, Sports Illustrated 23rd, Ringer 21st

5 things to know:

*Johnson is considered the best NBA prospect in this year's class from the University of Kentucky. Though the Wildcats usually churn out top-10 picks, he is projected to go somewhere in the back end of the lottery or in the 20s. His teammates Tyler Herro and P.J. Washington are expected to go late in the first round.

*Johnson is an athletic, slashing wing who is quick up and down the floor. His highlights are filled with fastbreak dunks and agile plays around the basket. Johnson, though, didn't participate in the vertical leap measurement at the combine, so there is some mystery there.

*He has a solid outside shot. Johnson made 38.2 percent of his threes on 3.2 attempts per game, which is impressive especially for a freshman. He appears to have smooth mechanics on his jumper and a quick release. Johnson, though, like most young players has to develop his ability to shoot off the dribble.

*Johnson plays with a lot of passion and is known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve. He brings tons of energy to both ends of the floor and that is a good sign for his potential at the next level.

*Johnson has a few local connections. He is from Chesterfield, VA, just south of Richmond. He went to high school at Oak Hill Academy in southwestern Virginia. His brother, Kaleb, plays basketball for Georgetown University. And his other brother, Kyle, played at Old Dominion.

Fit with Wizards: Johnson happens to play the one position the Wizards have solidified, at least in their starting lineup with Bradley Beal. However, they could use more guard depth in general and Beal needs some help behind him.

The Wizards thought they had solved that with Austin Rivers this past season and that didn't work out. The result was Beal leading the NBA in minutes played in the second straight year he appeared in all 82 games.

Iron Man streaks are great, but not ideal for a guy who has a history of leg injuries and a long career ahead of him. Johnson is the type of player who could take some pressure off of Beal and possibly play with him at the three-spot. He would also add shooting, which the Wizards need.

The question would be if he is good enough to pick ninth overall and if that need is enough to justify at that spot. The answer is probably not, but Johnson seems like a guy who could soar up draft boards once workouts begin.

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